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DCFD Hair / Beard Policy

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  • DCFD Hair / Beard Policy

    I'm curious about the feelings of other firefighters on this issue....Doesn't the union in DC have more important issues to deal with? In my opinion(and mine only) a firefighter is a professional and needs to keep a clean, neat and professional appearance. Mustaches are fine, but I think long hair (other than females) and beards (even though they might be trimmed neat) are not the image the public wants to see. I may be wrong.......(in some firefighters opinions)..but I support the Chief Few of DC in his policy

    ------------------
    C. Carpenter AKA Firedog1

  • #2
    My department has a policy that states if you want to fight fire you must not have a beard. Mustache is ok if it is reasonable and trimmed, goatee is ok if it doesn't interfere with the seal of the SCBA. I personally feel that earrings, long hair and dreadlocks, cornrows and all that are not official. If you want to wear the hair that way then you oght to have it short enough to cover with a hat when you are on-duty.

    Stay safe,

    Mark

    ------------------
    If in doubt - Call us out

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm with you guys. We are professionals and should appear as such. I run both EMS and fire and we have a similar policy. While I might be more visible as to facail hair and such without gear on and this might be part of the reason if feel the way I do. Now I'm not saying that beard or long hair are distasteful but, there are some people that might appear to be and you can't enforce one without the other. So grin, bear and shave it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, it seems to me that NFPA states in gist that facial hair affects the seal of the mask.

        On our department, which is volunteer, you may have a beard, or goatee, but you MAY NOT pack up. The issue of long hair, or ear rings has never been discussed. I think it is a reasonable rule, even though there are those that will argue that you can get a seal with a beard or goatee, it is better to not risk being wrong, because this IS for keeps. It only takes being wrong ONE time and there may not be another chance to make it right.

        I think that a professional appearance CAN be made WITH or WITHOUT a beard. However, it is more than a "professional appearance" at stake here, there is a possiblity that lives are too. I will have to lean in the direction though of a MORE professional appearance of short hair, no beards or goatees, and ear rings can be worn off duty if that person so desires.

        I agree with the Chiefs' decision because he is responsible for the appearance of his department.



        ------------------
        Your Brother In The Service,
        Rob Herpel
        FF/EMT
        Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
        Fremont Rural Fire Department

        Comment


        • #5
          I personally agree with the SPIRIT of the policy but I do not agree with making it a rule punishable by suspension. I mean, c'mon now, you're going to dock a guy 2 days pay because his beard was 3/8's of an inch as opposed to 1/4? Besides, do you measure it at the start of the shift or at the end? There's too many ways for management (i.e., chiefs, officers) to use this rule for purposes other than firefighter safety. Think of how many beards they'll be measuring when it comes time to negotiate a new contract! I do believe though, that any responsible firefighter would do whatever it takes to keep him/herself safe OF THEIR OWN VOLITION, it should not be a punishable offense. Also, are the firefighters given an option to trim the offending hair OR be suspended? Or are they sent packing on the spot. We really don't know the whole story here.

          Also, as far as the professional appearance issue goes, DC, being a major city, has people of many cultures in it's make-up. Each culture, I'm sure, has it's own unique perception of a "professional appearance." Just because we come rolling in on a big red truck doesn't mean people automatically trust us. For some people, it is probably comforting seeing someone come to their aid that resembles themselves. Just a few things to think about.

          Comment


          • #6
            Greetings:

            Of all the idiotic things to make a stand on in my FD, the new "Cheef" makes this his raison d'eter (purpose of being). If he was smart, he would have done a mandatory fit test, something that hasn't been done in 3 years. Deplorable firehouse conditions, no pay raise for six years, the city holding retirement money for almost 2 years (which they are under court order to pay), average company annual runs in excess of 4K, no formalized in service training in 2 years, like special ops. However, a customer service program, and sexual harassment course is mandatory.

            The issue is not safety...it's profilin' !!
            The last respondent stated clearly the multi-curtural makeup of the District is foreign to this Georgian. If he wants to create esprit de corp, he should focus on more important issues, hmm, like life and death and fireground and firehouse survival.

            I can't wait to retire, but then again we still do the work...besides where else can I go to actually get paid to see the circus???

            Comment


            • #7
              Doesn't NFPA regulate the facial hair scba issue? I have no problem with that policy for firefighters, but do the support staff have to abide by that as well? Can't a mechanic turn a wrench with a beard?
              Personally, I think the hair should be above the collar. Maybe it's a military thing. Ive never had mine touch the collar in 10 years, but thats my choice. I feel that contributes to a respectable, professional appearance. Does the guy in the article with the waist-length dreads fit it in his helmet or just down his back? Doesn't that affect fit or mobility? Is this the guy I want next to me to drag me out if I go down? But why did it take 10 years for this ff to be told to cut his hair?
              Oh, the trials of a big city.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have been following the threads about the problems in the DCFD.

                With all the crap that is going on there, Chief Few worrying about and enforcing a "hair policy" is like the Captain of the Titanic worrying about the placement of the deck chairs!

                The DCFD's morale is going down the tubes, and it appears that the politicians and the Chief don't care.

                The DCFD, led by the clueless, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. For so long, they have done so much for so many with so little that they are now qualified to do just about everything with nothing...To my Brothers and Sisters with the DCFD...keep fighting for what is right!



                ------------------
                Firefighters: rising to accept the challenge!
                Captain Gonzo

                Comment


                • #9
                  I THINK THE FACIAL HAIR ISSUE IS EASY TO SOLVE JUST HAVE A FIT TEST LIKE DCFDLT MENTIONED AND IF YOU PASS EACH YEAR YOU CAN KEEP THE FACIAL HAIR. AS FAR AS LONG HAIR AND CORNROWS NOT LOOKING PROFESSIONAL AND AFFECTING PERFORMANCE. I DON'T THINK A CITIZEN IS GOING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT A FF WITH CORNROWS OR LONG HAIR PULLING THEIR KID OUT OF A BURNING BUILDING. MY QUESTION IS, IT HAS BEEN SAID EITHER HERE OR ON OTHER FORUMS THAT LONG HAIR AND EARRINGS ON A MAN IS A HAZARD THAT EFFECTS HIS PERFORMANCE IF THIS IS SO THAN HOW COME A WOMAN CAN DO HER JOB WITH LONG HAIR AND EARRINGS?

                  [This message has been edited by GHETTOGHOST (edited 04-04-2001).]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think what the chief is trying to do is project a positive image of the department he is running. He only wants the department to be the best that it can be in the eyes of the citizens that it serves. I believe in equal rights for all however, there has to be some type of standard for a PARA-MILITARY organization. I agree that there could have been a better way to approach the issue though. Fit testing would have been a little better in the long run probably.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the response...I am glad one of DC's finest decided to chime in and give us a little inside information.....The safety issues brought up by most of the responses was also a concern of mine...I don't like seeing LODD's.......but I can now see that DCFD has a bigger problem than this hair issue.....good luck and stay safe DC brothers......I pray your situation will improve in the comming days

                      ------------------
                      C. Carpenter AKA Firedog1

                      [This message has been edited by Firedog1 (edited 04-04-2001).]

                      [This message has been edited by Firedog1 (edited 04-04-2001).]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Seeing as I come from a city boardering Chief Few's last command I know a bit about the man. His career in the fire service has been one challenge after another, and this is just one more to add to the list. The man got crucified for suggesting that all the buildings in downtown Augusta ( his last command) purchase an adapter to permanantly mount onto their stand pipes allowing the fire dept. easy hookup in an emergency. Their engines have to carry around several different thread adapters because very few buildings have the right thread on thier standpipes. For a little extra money the business owners would have saved prescious minutes. Now the hair thing in DC, I can understand the restrictions for the fire service personel, and because of that I understand them for the support personel as well. We all are aware that if he enforced it only on firefighters and EMS somebody would point out that the support people were allowed to have long hair so why can't they. Long hair, and earings are dangerous in this profession no matter what sex you are. If people want to whine about something as basic as this, why don't they say anything about LAFD stating that to get a job you cannot be a smoker

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have been on the job here in DC a long time. I have seen chiefs come and I have seen chiefs go. This hair thing is nothing new. It has been an issue since 1983, when a white firefighter won a court battle to keep his handlebar mustache and beard. Since then, the hair regulations (along with a lot of other regulations) have not been enforced. Personally, I feel that we SHOULD present a well-groomed immage to the public and that fit testing should be mandatory for those who chose not to comlply with facial hair regulations. I also think that the union should keep out of this controversy, and let the individuals who choose not to comply handle it through the ACLU or whoever else cares about stuff like this. There are many other more important issues that our union leadership's energy can and should be directed towards. However, since the union president has a beard, they probably won't take the hands-off approach.

                          Cheif Few, comming from the outside, has a limited view of what the real problems in DC are. He sees the obvious stuff, such as appearances, and reacts to what he sees. What he does not see is what is not quite as obvious - problems in training, discipline, equipment, facilities, manpower, communications, s.o.p.'s....the list goes on. He needs to take a harder look at what the real problems are, and take action on them. He must stop listening to, and taking the advice of, the idiots in management who have tried to surround him and steer him in the directions which will best serve themselves, and not the department as a whole!

                          [This message has been edited by DCFD1051 (edited 04-04-2001).]

                          [This message has been edited by DCFD1051 (edited 04-04-2001).]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Local 36 has picked the wrong battle to fight. Personal grooming standards impact both safety and public confidence in the department. These regulations have been upheld in numerous court cases.
                            I have been symathetic to the problems of the brothers in D.C. in the past. Morale has definitely suffered and Chief Few has made some questionable policy decisions, but enforcing hair/beard regs is not one of them.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Professionalism has nothing to do with how you look, but how you act.

                              To say that beards or long hair present an "unprofessional" appearance is nothing but pure and simple prejudice, and we do no one any good perpetuating such prejudices.

                              For persons whose job description includes wearing respirators, then you can reasonably require that they can safely wear one -- and that today means no facial hair interfering with the seal. That same standard could be applied to someone with any disfigurement that prevents any SCBA made today from achieving a proper seal. If it doesn't demonstrably interfere with your job, there's no reason to prohibit it.

                              LAFD, and many others like the State of Massachussets prohibiting smoking has nothing to do with "appearance" and everything to do with the generosity of the Presumption Laws. If it's automatically presumed heart & lung disease is job-related, it is entirely fair to require those who would benefit to stay fit and not engage in an activity (smoking) that is known to directly cause heart & lung disease.

                              Comment

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